News Analysis

Cuban President Calls for Solidarity, Respect, Social Responsibility

“Citizen peace and tranquility, respect, solidarity among compatriots and towards others in need around the world, saving Cuba to continue building, growing, dreaming and achieving the greatest possible prosperity. That is our message to our people.”

Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel, July 14, 2021

The article below appeared on July 14, 2021, in the English-language online edition of the Cuban daily Granma (en.granma.cu), the newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba.

World-Outlook is publishing it as another act of solidarity with revolutionary Cuba in confronting Washington’s 60-year-long unrelenting economic war that has been intensified under the administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Over the last week, U.S. President Biden, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the big-business media have gone out of their way to fill the air waves and the world-wide web with misinformation about recent protests in the island nation in an attempt to foment a social explosion and destabilize Cuba. The Caribbean country faces serious challenges—including blackouts and shortages of food, fuel, and medicines—posed by a recent spike of the Covid-19 pandemic[1] and asphyxiating sanctions by the U.S. government.

This article is focused on reporting on the remarks by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel during a July 14 panel discussion on the Cuban radio and television program Mesa Redonda (Round Table). The Cuban president had addressed the nation three days earlier, in the aftermath of protests that started in San Antonio de los Baños near Havana and spread elsewhere in the country on July 11.[2]

Díaz-Canel appeared on the program along with the country’s Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil.

Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel (second from left), speaks July 14, 2021, on Cuban TV program Mesa Redonda (Round Table). Prime Minister Manuel Marrero (to the right of Díaz-Canel) and Minister of Economy and Planning Alejandro Gil (right) were part of the panel. (Photo: Estudios Revolución)

During the discussion Marrero announced, on behalf of the government, some new economic measures to ease the impact of the crisis on Cuba’s population. These include authorizing the duty-free import of food, medicines, and toiletries by those traveling to Cuba, beginning July 19 and lasting until the end of this year. Marrero also said several units of Cuba’s thermoelectric plants, including in Matanzas and Holguín, are back in operation and are expected to reduce power cuts as the country seeks to increase and stabilize permanent energy reserves. To achieve such stability, 500 megawatts of power reserves would be needed, while the country has now only 133 megawatts, Marrero pointed out.[3]

Subheadings and footnotes are by World-Outlook.com.


By Yaditza del Sol González and Gladys Leidys Ramos López

HAVANA, July 14, 2021—We know the current situation is complex and challenging; complex due to the different contextual elements surrounding it and the interaction between these factors. It is challenging because it commands our ability to overcome adversity, to face all this defamation and the massive brutal media campaign that is being imposed upon our country, highlighted the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, during his appearance at the [radio and television program, the] Round Table.

This situation, he added, has also been fueled by the recent disturbances that occurred in a concentrated manner on Sunday, July 11, which had a lower incidence on Monday. And between Tuesday and Wednesday [July 14], there have been almost no events.

Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel (center) during July 11 visit to San Antonio de los Baños in the aftermath of anti-government protest that took place there that day. The Cuban president held extensive conversations with people in the neighborhood. (Photo: Estudios Revolución)

“This undoubtedly responds, as our Chancellor denounced, to a deliberate plan that is in process.” Hence, he argued, revolutionary vigilance, the performance of our institutions, the perception that we must have of the situation are very important since they respond to all the precepts of unconventional warfare, the well-known manual for the soft coup.

Here several things have coincided, he pointed out. First, he explained, there is the 60-year blockade,[4] which has been intensified and further supported by the 243 restrictive measures imposed during the Donald Trump administration, and which have been sustained. In addition, he said, we have had the peak of the pandemic experienced in recent weeks.

However, he warned there is an element that we cannot let escape our attention, that amid this situation, Abdala’s[5] results come forth, recognizing it as the first vaccine in Latin America and allowing Cuba to take one more step in successfully confronting Covid-19.

“On the other hand, they were already beginning to talk, and there were some indications that the current United States administration intended to review some points of the policy towards Cuba.”

Within this context, there was also the country’s energy situation, he added, which has already been explained, along with a group of deficiencies and dissatisfactions.

He pointed out that those who truly do not want the Cuban Revolution to develop, those who do not aspire to a civilized and respectful relationship with the United States, and above all, that very conservative sector linked to the Cuban-American mafia, took advantage of the situation believing that this was that now or never moment.

Comparison with ‘Special Period’

So, he said, we must go back to talking about the blockade, the measures and the difference in context. We have always been stunned, we are a generation that was born, raised and lived in the midst of this cruel policy, but the current conditions are not the same as we had in the special period.[6]

Back then, the island practically ran out of many possibilities, he recalled. “Today, based on accumulated experiences, we develop, for example, oil extraction programs. The result is that currently, a fundamental part of our electricity generation is established in thermoelectric plants that consume domestic crude.”

Also, he explained, we were able to develop an investment process in tourism that promoted tourist poles that give us income in important currencies to sustain other activities, as well as other investments that favored productive processes that serve to supply goods and services to the population, create reserves and export to the international market.

“However, with the resurgence of the blockade and the 243 measures [new sanctions imposed under Trump], all sources of income that favored those opportunities and potentials that we have been developing are cut off.” And in the midst of that situation, we are today with a tremendous lack of foreign exchange, said the Cuban president.

The blockade is real, genocidal

The First Secretary of the Central Committee commented that there are many people who say that there is no blockade, “it is one of the matrixes that has tried to promote this fierce smear campaign against Cuba.”

The balance, he explained, of what enters the country, what we owe and what we need is very unfavorable. “There is a huge list of what the country needs and the commitments to honor debts, and a small inflow of foreign currency at the moment.”[7]

A practical example of what happens: the retention of a ship for fuel or food, he pointed out. “In the midst of low foreign exchange earnings, it is something we need to prioritize. We make the effort and pay it, but as we owe that supplier, the ship enters Cuba and the company itself tells us that it will not unload it until we pay the debt.

“At that time, you have to look where there is no way to pay that retention or, worse, contract or renegotiate a debt with that company that continues to work with us and that, despite the blockade, maintains commercial relations. We live examples like that every day,” he added.

He described that we are entering, with a tremendous effort, the three power generation blocks: a new investment in one of the Felton blocks, a repair in another, and a repair in Guiteras. But we have a generator set base in Moa, the largest in the country, which, being able to function, cannot do so because we have a ship held back with fuel. “That has already been solved. But now, due to the swells and bad weather, we have not been able to unload.”

The blockade overcomes any desire, delays us, does not allow us to advance at the speed we need, and that causes difficulties. Although we act on the problems, those that remain unsolved in relation to those difficulties that are solved accumulate, he pointed out.

This, in turn, causes misunderstandings and disagreements to grow, affecting people’s hopes and aspirations. “That’s why I never tire of saying it’s a cruel, genocidal, law.”

There is no doubt that we want a more prosperous country, and we are dissatisfied that we have not achieved it, knowing that if they let us act by our own strength and talent, if they do not erect obstacles, we can achieve it, said Díaz-Canel during his speech.

It is another element of context, of reality, that in the midst of this situation in which they try to suffocate us with a gentle blow, Cuba has developed five vaccine candidates, which have great merit, he acknowledged. But why were we forced to look for five candidates? Because the blockade does not allow us to have the money to buy vaccines made by other countries. Second, because the blockade threatens our sovereignty and we must be capable of doing things ourselves, that is why we developed the vaccines. And we can do it because we have a conquest of the Revolution that has been scientific-technological development [of biotechnology], based on the visionary idea of ​​Fidel Castro.

“Besides, it was almost our only alternative. Has a vaccine arrived from somewhere else in Cuba at this time? With whom have we already vaccinated almost 30% of the population with the first dose? With whom do we aspire, before the end of the year, to have the entire Cuban population vaccinated? With whom are we doing clinical trials in convalescent people and in children and adolescents? With the Cuban candidates,” he said.

Vulnerable neighborhoods

Regarding the disturbances, he pointed out that we have to draw experiences, make a critical analysis of our problems, in order to act, overcome, prevent them from recurring, to transform the conditions we face.

July 11, 2021, protest in Old Havana, left, as seen from Hotel Inglatera (England) before some of the demonstrators turned violent. In addition to people opposed to the Cuban Revolution, protesters included people who got confused, Díaz-Canel said, which is “legitimate too, because they feel dissatisfaction and they have not always received adequate attention.” On right, cars overturned by violent protesters in Old Havana later that day. The white automobile is a police vehicle. [Photos: (left) Screen capture from Facebook video / (right) Yamil Lage / AFP]

In the riots one can first distinguish an annexationist[8] participation, people who respond to a foreign plan and are opposed to the Revolution, who think under the empire’s designs, that when they carry out an action they do not go to a Cuban flag, but to an American one, he commented.

“But there are also other Cubans who have been involved.” Some, he said, acting as a delinquent, others, who are dissatisfied people and who have other means to express their dissatisfaction, but who got confused and when they saw the situation, they joined in, which is “legitimate too, because they feel dissatisfaction and they have not always received adequate attention.”

There were also young people, he acknowledged, which contrasts, he pointed out, with the young people who have been contributing to the country, collaborating, giving their help in the first line of confrontation with the pandemic, in the red zones.

They were demonstrations, supposedly defended as peaceful, but the images show that it was not like that, that is a lie, he added.

However, he affirmed, the criminals and the dissatisfied who participated in these events are also part of the people and that hurts us, it bothers us that there are people with that attitude. “They show fractures that are evident in our attention to certain social problems, they are the consequence of those fractures, of those things that we have to perfect and assume responsibility for.”

The Cuban President made reference to Fidel’s ideas, his thinking, his thesis in relation to the missing links in society, and the need to act differently, from social and community work, and attend to each family in those situations, in disadvantaged or vulnerable neighborhoods.

Likewise, he recognized that working with prisoners is not always the best when re-educating them in prisons, even though, from there, a person can study and even graduate with a university degree.

Later, he added, society itself is not capable of incorporating those people who are released from prison in the most humane and transformative way possible. So, they continue with those vulnerabilities, and the events are repeated, he said.

Regarding the dissatisfied, he mentioned, there are also problems of attention on the part of our institutions to the proposals of the population and of sensitivity to the problems. The argument, he said, must be timely and the answer clear and precise. There are problems that we do not have conditions to solve, and that must be said, that it is not that I want to bother you or not solve it, but there reasons that prevent solutions, he said.

“Now, with the harshness with which I am analyzing, starting from the dissatisfactions, we have not been able to achieve all the transformation in vulnerable neighborhoods, and in overcoming the problems that these dissatisfied people have, partly also because of the blockade.”

Because if we had the construction materials, the fuels, the productions, the raw materials associated with a group of processes that help in the solution, we would have been able to respond to those dissatisfactions, he said.

He called for continuing to promote the humanist vocation of the Revolution with concrete actions, with deeds, and also to revive the forms of social participation, as well as the work of the organizations and institutions that operate in the neighborhoods.

Díaz-Canel also spoke about the deceased, based on the events that occurred in the Havana neighborhood of La Güinera, the wounded, the attack on the law enforcement authorities. He also mentioned that acts were committed against the Constitution,[9] which was endorsed by more than 86% of the Cuban people and, therefore, belongs to the majority, and must be respected. For this reason, there are people who are going to receive the response outlined in Cuban legislation, which will be energetic, but also respectful in each case, with the established procedural guarantees.

Maybe, he acknowledged, it will be necessary to apologize to someone who, in the midst of all the confusion, has been mistreated. But it is legitimate for a part of the people and an important part of the forces of order to try to avoid these events, and to counteract them, because even today we are with disorderly cities, cracking the security that people feel about living in Cuba.

The streets belong to the revolutionaries

I know that there are people, said the President, distressed by what has happened, and some perhaps fearful that our society is going to unravel, but that will never happen. We are not going to give that a chance, and that is why there was a performance.

In this regard, he stressed that they have tried to misinterpret the call that the street belongs to the revolutionaries, and that is not a concept that does not include other people. What happens is that at times like this, the revolutionaries at the front, with all those who are included, they have a duty to protect what is everyone’s heritage.

Tens of thousands of Cubans assemble in El Malecón, Havana’s waterfront, on the morning of Saturday, July 17, (left) to counter a call by the reactionary S.O.S.Cuba campaign for anti-government protests there and around the country that day. According to Cuban media the pro-revolution mobilization grew to nearly 100,000 people by the evening (right). Similar actions to defend the Cuban Revolution took place across the island July 17. (Photos: Granma)

Likewise, he recognized that this type of situation also triggers the need for improvement, depth, and critical sense.

“The Revolution was made to transform this reality, to reach everyone, to open horizons of improvement to everyone; and I believe that everyone in the Revolution, regardless of skin color, regardless of gender, have had the possibility of benefiting from all those horizons.

“We must see then what fails us,” he stressed, because there are people who reach this state of mind and who can be manipulated by a campaign that misinforms, that creates virtual realities that do not exist, that respond to interventionist, destabilizing projects.

From this analysis, and on the basis of self-criticism, the president called for continuing to promote the feelings of solidarity, respect, and social responsibility.

“Strive more to achieve concrete results, help each other more, with all the potential we have and overcome our disagreements with each other. We have to encourage, even if we have different points of view, that together we try to find solutions, and we have to promote from the government, the Party, a deep social work that is based on that,” he continued.

It is also a call for peace, he said, for harmony among Cubans and for respect; because a few, no matter how affected they are or how many deficiencies they face, because they overvalue that their situation is worse than that of others, cannot attack others. They have the right to express themselves peacefully, to go to the institutions that should serve them.

Those who do not have the commitment to overcoming problems are the ones who blockade us, and why don’t they let us do things the way we want? Let us show ourselves, without the blockade, under equal conditions, that we are incapable, and that the convictions we have are delusional. Why in 60 years have they not left us, and how, despite everything, have we built a social justice that exceeds that which can be exhibited by countries that present themselves to us with such perversity, he questioned.

Who has taken care of Matanzas?

Díaz-Canel reflected on the context and background of the unfolding events.

We were in the middle of the pandemic peak, but that peak has not only occurred in Cuba; and who has been concerned about promoting an SOS[10] to the African continent, or to the United States itself, or to the Latin American region?

“They took Matanzas and started heating up the SOS in Matanzas, riots come, and they have forgotten the SOS in Matanzas, the SOS in Matanzas was turned off. Was the objective really to support Matanzas, or was it to take advantage of a situation—as it is in the manuals for a soft coup—that could create irritation, insecurity, enhance social confusion, provoke demonstrations, clashes between forces, and seek to destabilize the country?”

Life showed, he assured, who has taken care of Matanzas. A work team was sent there with people from the government, the country’s top management and other organizations. In less than three months, primary care has been strengthened, and that team was the one that made the decisions about places that could be converted into hospitals. It was that Cuban government that offered solutions, the rest was a pretext, a falsehood.

When you go to the [social] networks, if you do not have convictions and firmness, you become anxious, because everything that has been raised from Cuba is totally absurd. There is a reality in the networks, and there is another in the life of this country. He added that family feelings have been manipulated. Friends and relatives abroad have called those who live here to insult them, to incite them to leave the country.

He mentioned the slander that the Army General [Raúl Castro] had left for Caracas, while he assured that [Castro] is in Cuba, with his boots on and with his foot on the ground.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel (left) and Army General and former Cuban President Raúl Castro at July 17 mass rally in Havana. Among the recent lies circulated by opponents of the Revolution was that Raúl Castro had left for Caracas, Díaz-Canel said. (Photo: Granma)

“They said that a vice minister of the Interior defected, another lie. All that is sent with photos that are lies. They say that in Cuba there is total repression, and deaths by the thousands. Where are the thousands of deaths, where are the cases of deaths in Cuba? We recognized that there was a deceased and we are doing all the investigation.”

The president also denied the false situation created in Camagüey, and gave examples of false photos, of demonstrations in cities of other countries, claiming that they were in the Plaza and on the Havana waterfront.

Regarding the alleged news of the leaders who have left the country, the President emphasized that “here there is a lot of courage in all of our people for that. We are going to be here until the last consequences, and I am one of those who is convinced that for this Revolution we give our lives, for the future of Cubans, for the future of our children, of our grandchildren, and because we have had a present and also a future in this country, regardless of all the dreams that we have not been able to achieve due to all this criminal policy,” he said.

Media campaign calls for violence

It has been a media campaign full of hate, false news, ridiculous and lying images, calling for violent events. Today they circulated a post where they said how to build artifacts or weapons to attack, he warned.

“I am one of those who has defended the computerization of society, of the need to use the Internet, but with a humanistic conception. The Internet should promote culture, should be used to share knowledge,” he clarified.

It is an expression of media terrorism, he continued, because calls are being made to kill, to assassinate, in social networks, to create insecurity, panic, to distort.

However, he acknowledged, we are left with the conviction that we can do more, that we can face problems, solve them, with hard work, precisely because of the values ​​that our people have.

From this analysis, we can say that in Cuba today there is peace in our cities, we continue to function. The government is working, we continue in working sessions; and reoriented to revive our forms of social participation, promoting work with young people, to listen to them as the important people they are, and seeing how we enhance the attention to the communities. In addition to all that, he stressed, we are vaccinating, listening to proposals, strengthening ourselves from the inside, we continue to draw lessons.

We call for security, social responsibility, harmony, not to let hatred take over the Cuban soul, which is one of kindness, solidarity, dedication, affection and love. We cannot allow ourselves to be disunited, fractured, by those who do not want the best for our land. Our problems are resolved among Cubans, in the Revolution, he claimed.

Therefore, he concluded, we must defend, ensure and sustain our sovereign tranquility, calling for the unity of all the people, of all Cuban families, of our institutions, with our population, developing that creative resistance that always gives us the potential to overcome adversity.

“Citizen peace and tranquility, respect, solidarity among compatriots and towards the others in need around the world, saving Cuba to continue building, growing, dreaming and achieving the greatest possible prosperity. That is our message to our people.”


ENDNOTES

[1] For more information see “Cuba Sets Example in Confronting the Pandemic,” recently published by World-Outlook in two parts: Part I and Part II.

[2] For a report on the July 11 statement by the Cuban president see Granma article, “We Will Defend the Revolution Above All Else,” published July 12, 2021, on World-Outlook.com.

[3] For additional reporting on the remarks by Cuba’s Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil during the July 14, 2021, Round Table discussion see the July 16, 2021, OnCuba article Cuban government announces new economic measures.”

[4] U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lester D. Mallory wrote a memorandum on April 6, 1960, proposing an embargo against Cuba: “Most Cubans support Castro,” he noted. “There is no effective political opposition (…) The only possible way to make the government lose domestic support is by provoking disappointment and discouragement through economic dissatisfaction and hardships (…) Every possible means should be immediately used to weaken the economic life (…) denying Cuba funds and supplies (…) with the objective of provoking hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”

U.S.President Dwight Eisenhower imposed a “partial” economic embargo against Cuba in 1960 in response to popular measures taken by the Cuban Revolution. These included the first land reform in May 1959 when lands owned by former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, his allies, and American companies were confiscated and distributed to Cuban peasants. In October 1960 the revolutionary government nationalized the country’s banks and 382 large companies. President John F. Kennedy deployed CIA-organized mercenaries who invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, attempting to overthrow the revolution. The Cuban armed forces backed by a popular mobilization defeated the invaders in 72 hours. In February 1962, during a mass mobilization of more than 1 million Cubans, Fidel Castro read the Second Declaration of Havana, announcing the expropriation of capitalist property in land the basic means of production and thus the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution. President Kennedy proclaimed a draconian trade and financial embargo against Cuba, which remains in place today. It is the longest and most brutal economic embargo in modern history.

[5] Abdala is the first vaccine against the Covid-19 virus developed in Latin America to reach the highest stage of efficacy in combating the pandemic. It is one of five vaccines developed in Cuba despite enormous obstacles. According to a July 17 announcement by Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), Abdala showed 100% efficacy during phase-three clinical trials, both in the prevention of severe systemic disease and death from Covid-19. For more information see “Cuba Sets Example in Confronting the Pandemic,” recently published by World-Outlook in two parts: Part I and Part II.

[6] The “Special Period in Time of Peace” refers to the period in the 1990s when Cuba faced its most serious economic crisis.  Faced with the cutoff of heavily subsidized trade with the former Soviet Union, Cuba was suddenly confronted with a plunge of 35 percent of economic production (equal or greater than the decline of the Great Depression in the U.S. in the 1930s). At the same time, Washington intensified its economic warfare against Cuba as the revolution fought to get new trading partners and sources of capital. Enemies of the revolution everywhere predicted the “impeding” collapse of the workers and farmers republic. Revolutionary minded working people, however, defended the socialist revolution in face of these difficulties showing the Cuban government remained their government. And they continued to reach out to the oppressed and exploited around the world offering assistance to anti-imperialist and national liberation struggles.

[7] Cuba needs foreign currency to purchase essential needs under the weight of the U.S. blockade. The revolutionary government had no choice but to decriminalize the use of U.S. dollars and develop the tourism industry as the country’s main source of foreign currency. These measures have led to growing social stratification in Cuba and the strengthening of middle-class layers in the country. The revolution maintains key gains of the working class, such as free medical care and free education, but differentiation has grown between the cities and countryside. Working people with no access to hard currency bear a greater share of the burden of the economic crisis.

[8] “Annexationists” are those who support a U.S. seizure of Cuba as a colony.

[9] More than 86% of Cubans taking part in a referendum on Feb. 24, 2019, approved the country’s new constitution. The document defines Cuba as a “socialist state of law and social justice, democratic, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all.”About 9% of those casting ballots voted no.

[10] The hashtags #SOSCuba and #SOSMatanzas called attention to the rising number of Covid-19 cases that have developed in Cuba recently with the intention of accusing the Cuban government of being incapable of dealing with the outbreak, despite the fact that no other government has done more to keep its population safe during the pandemic. That false claim was simply a pretext for U.S. government intervention in Cuba. As President Díaz-Canel explained, no such campaign has been waged against other countries where the virus has spiraled out of control for many months, in Africa, the Americas, or elsewhere. Countries with recent such spikes include Brazil, India, and Indonesia. The social media campaign hoped that some violent protests could lead to a U.S. military intervention calling even for the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” to “save” Cuba.

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